LibriVox recording of Passing, by Nella Larsen.
Read by Elizabeth Klett.
Nella Larsen, a writer of the Harlem Renaissance, wrote two brilliant novels that interrogated issues of gender and race. In Passing, her second novel published in 1929, she examines the troubled friendship between two mixed-race women who can pass as white. One, Irene Redfield, marries a black man and lives in Harlem, while the other, Clare Kendry, marries a bigoted white man. Clare re-enters Irene's life after an absence of many years, and stirs up painful questions about identity.
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January 1, 2015 Subject:
Moving, thought-provoking and a magnificent ending. It encouraged me to seek out her other book, Quicksand, which is equally good.
A very moving reading by Elizabeth Klett.
April 13, 2013 Subject:
Race is the hook, but Passing is about so much more...
Nella Larson shook down not only race issues in Passing. Irene does her own passing with her marriage. For Irene it is all about class and she clings so hard to her husband and children out of fear. Fear that she would be nothing. She projects all ill feelings about herself onto Clare. Eventually the fear drives her over the edge. The window into Irene's mind, compounded by supremely written dialogue, kept me riveted. This is a fabulous read and serves history in a truthful way. It is a shame that Nella Larson slipped out of the career of writing. Let's hope that during her years as a nurse she wrote more that will be unearthed some day.
February 9, 2011 Subject:
A disturbing look back in time
This story is certainly about race, but it also seems to be about fitting in. The women in this story both seem to be able to "pass" as white if they wish. One chooses to do so and the other does not (well at least I think she doesn't.) I was a bit confused as to whether Irene was at times trying to pass, but Clare for sure was. Clare; however, misses the other part of her heritage, thus her reason for wanting to keep seeing Irene. I cannot identify with the women on the racial aspect, but I can certainly understand the part about fitting in. Often I thought both of these women were rather snobbish and it was hard to really like either of them. Toward the end I could really sympathize with Irene because of her suspicions about Clare and her philandering. The story does not have a real clear end but it certainly makes you think when it is over. Elizabeth Klett narrates and does a wonderful job. I think I would be curious to hear the opinion from a person of color on what they thought of this story. It is sad that racial discrimination is part of our history and still exists even today. I think though that there will always be that fear of whatever is different whether it is race, religion, age, sex, etc. My only hope is that people will learn that judging a person by their appearance is not very wise.